Here in North Dakota, since the last election cycle, Democrats have been attacking Republicans for supposed corruption stemming from financial relations between them and the companies they regulate.
Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, and former Commissioner turned Congressman Kevin Cramer, have been attacked for taking campaign contributions (perfectly legal and 100% disclosed) from coal industry interests. Governor Jack Dalrymple has been accused of bribery by liberal activists for accepting contributions from the oil industry, and stock he owns in a subsidiary of ExxonMobil has been questioned as well.
But I wonder if Democrats will keep singing this tune now that Senate financial disclosures show Senator Heidi Heitkamp owning big-money interests in companies she regulates?
Heitkamp’s press people wouldn’t comment on news that she owns stock in a company regulated by the Senate Banking Committee on which Heitkamp sits:
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) and her husband held between $50,001 and $100,000 in J.P. Morgan Chase JPM +1.15% & Co. last year. Ms. Heitkamp was elected in November and now serves on the Senate Banking Committee. A spokeswoman for Ms. Heitkamp declined to comment.
Heitkamp’s people also waved off questions about hundreds of thousands of dollars she owns in Apple stock, a company currently under investigation by another committee she sits on:
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., owns the most Apple stock among the 14 members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, with her holdings worth at least $250,001 and up to $500,000, according to personal financial disclosure documents released today that cover calendar year 2012.
Heitkamp was one of six committee members to not attend Tuesday’s hours-long hearing, during which Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook defended his company against accusations of tax dodging. Regardless, the senator’s stock holdings do not pose a conflict, a spokeswoman said.
“Senator Heitkamp was selected to serve on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee because of her unique position being from a border state and her past experience as a state attorney general working along aside law enforcement,” spokeswoman Whitney Phillips said. “Her position on this committee is in no way impacted by her personal financial holdings.”
I honestly don’t have a problem with Heitkamp’s financial holdings. They’ve been disclosed (though I might quibble that the public is owed a bit more detail), and we voters can decide whether or not she’s unduly influenced by them. Or handing out special treatment or favors.
But then, I didn’t really have a problem with Cramer and Kalk’s campaign contributions, or Governor Dalrymple’s financial holdings.
Senator Heitkamp’s party attacked Republicans for doing the exact same things she’s doing as a US Senator. But something tells me that North Dakota’s Democrats only think this sort of thing is a problem when Republicans do it.